Saturday, August 25, 2012
Ralph's Italian Ices: A Love Story (as guest blogged "glogged" by Marianne R.)
I am glogging today in lieu of Allison's normally beautifully written work. So today you get me, and I'm not nearly as talented as her and since my job requires little brain activity, I'm very out of practice with my writing, so bear with me. I'm going to tell a story and it begins a long time ago. It wasn’t a dark and stormy night, rather it was a dark and balmy night. Our story, Allison and myself, begins nearly 10 years ago when we were young and foolish (as compared to now when we are nearly middle aged and foolish). This is not to say our friendship began at this point, but rather our love affair with a delicious frozen icee begins. Picture it, Copiague, NY, 2003 (I don’t know if this was the exact year but I’m trying to impress Allison since she has such a memory for details like this; it’s weirdly freaky and extraordinary at the same time). After what must have been a long night of South Shore Long Island Bar Hopping (I put all of this in capital letters because it was what we did for most of our 20s. So, you know, this was an official thing), we must have decided we needed a frozen treat. Ok, maybe we weren’t bar hopping that night. It’s entirely feasible that we were out eating somewhere and decided to continue our eating frenzy. This was the other thing we did for most of our 20s and continues well into our 30s. But I digress, back to our frozen treat. We headed to the nearest frozen ice establishment and got ourselves a delicious icee then proceeded to the nearest water dock and sat in my magenta colored Honda Civic. We were in our glory, icee mess dripping down our hands and onto my stick shift, after all it was a hot night and we had to drive a few minutes to get to this romantic setting we found ourselves in.
I distinctly remember that it was around 11pm and we were staring out into the water, probably reminiscing about something completely stupid and reliving the jokes over and over, when out of nowhere, there was a pounding on my window. Startled and upset because my icee enjoyment has been interrupted, the security at the dock said "S'cuse me, ma'am? Are you gonna finish that icee?" (Oh god, I was a ma'am even in my mid 20s)! Actually, he didn't say that at all, but he may as well have considering that is how Allison and I relive that story at least 100 times a year. Stupid? I know. Stupid is as Stupid does. (No, don't get us started on a Forrest Gump debate.) Instead he proceeded to tell us that the dock was closing and we needed to leave. Thus begins Allison and my journey into the world of frozen icees. It continues until this very day. Literally, I had an icee today.
Ok, now picture it Patchogue (my hometown), Sayville (my work town), and Shirley (my other work town) 2012: Ralph's Italian Ices. Every year I challenge myself to eat all their flavors. I usually go at it haphazardly and I never keep track. It's not surprising that I find myself failing at this eating challenge year after year. This year, I swore, was going to be different. This year will be the year that I eat all 90ish flavors and I decided to go about it logically: alphabetically. I studiously printed out the website's official list of flavors so that I can cross off each one as I try it. As I started my challenge in April and I have until November, when the season ends, to complete my tastings, I needed to be methodical about it. I quickly found out how difficult this would be as each Ralph's location has extra flavors that are not on the official list nor consistent with the other locations I frequent most often. I immediately became stressed and agitated. Wouldn't you? This was going to be complicated. But it's not called a challenge for no reason. I vowed to continue.
I began my challenge on April 4th assuming that this would be easy as pie. In fact, my first flavor was Apple Crumb Pie. Not a bad beginning if I do say so myself. I devoured it within 5 minutes, similar to the way a zombie would devour its first bite of flesh. Plowing my way through the flavored icees, both water based and cream based, I was loving life for the first half of April. No matter where I was, home or work, I had easy access to Italian ices! The "A's" were easy to get through since there was only one. When I hit the "B's", I was thwarted once more. Some flavors are repetitive: Banana, Banana Fudge, and Bonzai Banana. No offense Ralph, but they all tasted the same. Still, I forged through one too many scoops bananas. One flavor sticks in my memory: Bubble Gum because it contained actual pieces of rock hard gum in it, similar to the gumballs in the machine at the grocery store (that reminds me, I need to pick up some ice cream at the grocery store later). I found myself chewing my icee. I would pack it to the side of my mouth so I could continue eating the actual ice but it would get so big, I'd have to spit it out and start again. I felt like I was last in the batting lineup for the Yankees, just waiting on the bench for my turn.
I like to think of myself as the life of the party. This certainly is not and will never be the case as I'm a bit introverted and self-conscious. But now, when I go to parties, I bring pints and gallons and fun tub sizes of several Ralph's flavors. Let everyone else bring the Entenmann's Coffee Cake (oh, who am i kidding, I'll have a piece of that too!) and I'll bring the much loved Ralph's Famous Italian Ices! I don't mean to brag, but it always is a big hit while allowing me to sample several different flavors in one shot. This is also the only time I allow myself to 'jump' around on my official list, so i was able to sample Rainbow Cookie (one of my top flavors) and Red Velvet (huge hit on Mother's Day, specifically with my mom) early in the season.
One recent night, Allison and I patronized our local Ralph's. I was up to the early "C's" at this point and was loving my Cappuccino Icee. But there were 3 teens intent on ruining my night: one boy who was clearly trying to impress the two girls he was sitting with. There was also a little black cat, minding his business, passing through. This boy decided to flick a spoonful of Ralph's at this harmless little feline and followed his asininess with a laugh. Now, between Allison and me, we are moms to 5 feline furbabies so we were not going to stand for this. When asinine boy decided to flick another spoonful at the cat, I had to speak up and embarrass him in front of the girls he was with.
Me: You're not going to fling anything else at the cat, are you? Because, you know, he didn't do anything to you.
Asinine Boy: No (mumbles incoherently to the girls).
Unimpressed Girls: Stop it! Don't do that!
Allison: Plus aren't you a little too old to be doing things like that?
Asinine Boy: Aren't you a little too old for Ralph's?
His last comment elicited much laughter from Allison and me. The cat was unharmed and wandered away, undoubtedly thinking the same thing as Allison and I: This boy is never going to get laid. But it did get me thinking....Am I too old for Frozen Ices? For a thirst quenching Root Beer Ice, for Crazy Coconut Ice which conjures up sweet memories of vacationing at the beach whilst drinking Malibu Rum mixed with anything, or for Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice (btw, if Ralph himself is reading this, please add more 'jelly' to this flavor) reminding me innocence in a paper bag lunch? As we walked away from the establishment we spied more teens hanging out in the back of a pickup truck. The bed of the truck carried one girl with many guys and the girl was dancing provocatively while the guys watched. We wondered what kind of town we lived in. This was clearly a failed attempt at a Ralph's night out for us. I mean, maybe we ARE too old for ices? Maybe that asinine boy hit the nail on the head?
Okay, well I'm really dragging this out. And likely Allison is the only one who will actually read this entire post. At this point in August, I find myself still stuck on the "C's", yet i'm 36 flavors in my challenge. In my defense there are approximately 26 flavors beginning with the letter "C". I'm serious in my quest. So serious that last week I sized up to a medium cup and had 3 flavors put in. I made sure to eat a light dinner. THAT'S how serious I am. Did I mention I'm 7 1/2 months pregnant? I thought this would be easy and that I'd be starving everyday but the complete opposite is true. I barely have an appetite and I get full so quickly. Yet another obstacle in my challenge. Whoever said this would be easy as Apple Crumb Pie lied. Oh wait, that was me.